Updated June 6, 2011
LINDEN — Two council members who are being challenged for re-election voted to raise taxes by about $100 in a preliminary budget but some political insiders say homeowners should prepare for worse news after the June 7 primary election.
Sources say revenues were exaggerated in the spending plan to help Councilwoman Michelle Yamakaitis and Councilman Richard Puschel avoid a potential firestorm as they face voters for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday.
Yamakaitis is being challenged by school board member Jacqueline Williams, a close ally of Councilman Derek Armstead.
Puschel is defending his Council seat against a strong challenge by Archie Strazzella, who has been endorsed by both Mayor Richard Gerbounka and Democratic Council President James Moore.
Their foes note that Yamakaitis and Puschel have voted to raise taxes by more than $800 in recent years, including the $425 increase placed on the average homeowner in the current budget.
Luke Yamakaitis, the councilwoman’s husband, reportedly doubled his city hall salary last year with almost $50,000 in overtime payments, according to municipal records.
Puschel is also getting flack for double-dipping — collecting a county police paycheck in addition to his city salary.
As homeowners are struggling to pay their bills, such political insiders as Yamakaitis and Puschel have been held accountable for helping themselves to rampant spending at taxpayer expense.
Addendum: “Excess OT Report Angers Yamakaitis“
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